£48m devoted to farming research projects in Scotland

The Scottish government has announced details of multimillion-pound projects aimed at improving sustainable food and farming production.

Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said the government has allocated more than £48m in the 2016-17 financial year to strategic scientific research in the area of rural affairs, food and the environment. 

Research institutes that focus on advances in crop science, animal welfare, food security and climate change are to benefit from the funding.

See also: £17.5m funding secured to help develop precision farming

The Moredun Research Institute will be awarded £6.4m for projects mostly to investigate animal health and the James Hutton Institute will receive £21.1m for crop sciences and environment research.

The Rowett Institute will be awarded £7.6m to investigate a project looking at how to optimise the nutritional composition of Scottish crops and how dietary fibre can be used to help people achieve a healthy weight.

Professor Peter Morgan, the institute’s director of nutrition and health, said: “Rowett is well placed to take the lead on how to achieve a healthy and sustainable diet and also how to improve the healthiness of the food products we produce.

“Yet at the same time we will also be addressing the issue of what determines food choice, particularly in the context of inequalities.”

In addition, Scotland’s Rural College will net £7.3m for agriculture research, Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland will be awarded £1.7m for work on statistics and analysis and higher education institutes £4m for collaboration work.

Mr Lochhead said the funding would enable Scotland to maintain its position at the head of scientific advances in farming, food and the environment.

He added: “Our continued support will ensure Scotland will remain at the forefront of ground-breaking advances that have the potential to transform farming and food production in this country and across the world – building on the successes already achieved.”

The Scottish government has previously scored notable successes funding research into breeding lower-emission livestock, new techniques to prevent soil erosion following the harvest of potato crops and the development of a sheep vaccine to prevent the potentially deadly parasite Barber’s poleworm, which is common in warmer climates.